It’s writer’s block, I am quite convinced of it. I’ve had this recipe ready to go for a few weeks now, I’ve bragged it up and down to both sides of the family and yet it’s still stuck in my drafts folder. Tonight, that is all about to change.
I love chickpeas and I love hummus. Over the years, I’ve noticed that the best hummus I’ve eaten was always at a restaurant and I could never come close to replicating it at home. It was never light or creamy, but instead thick, grainy and tasting too heavily of tahini. That is, until now. I happened to be browsing through Pinch of Yum and came across their basic version of hummus. Upon a closer look, I noticed that the recipe called for peeling chickpeas and starting with a tablespoon of tahini. I could hardly believe it! It was like somebody had finally given me permission to do what I always knew should be done.
Let me explain.
I have made hummus numerous times over the years and with every attempt I told myself it would be less tahini the next time. But every “next time” brought a new recipe to my attention and there I went again, following it to a “T” with the same verdict - less tahini! I feel like I was the only one with this dilemma. No matter. As I continued to read and compare, the ratio of chickpeas to tahini seemed to be the same everywhere. I kept thinking to myself “how’s it possible that all the recipe developers write one thing (heavy on the tahini) and restaurants serve another (balanced and light-tasting)?” Not anymore. Oh, and peeling the chickpeas? It seems to me I’ve fallen behind in keeping up on the latest cooking trends while most professional cooking sites omit the step completely for fear of overwhelming their readers. Pick your battle.
Seriously, the reduced tahini was a game changer and since I was on a roll, I took it to the next level and added yogurt. This is not actually my own idea (thank you Maureen Abood!) but something told me that I would like it. The yogurt adds an airiness and softness to the hummus that I absolutely love. With a cheesy grin, I also realized that this must be the secret behind our favorite hummus at a local restaurant in MO. A heavily accented “sorry, restaurant secret.” was all I got from him when I called to inquire about the recipe. It’s a very good secret, sir. You have my respect.
Here are some tips for success:
After soaking the chickpeas overnight, cooking times can vary greatly. I’ve cooked them for as little as 45 minutes and as long as 4 hours. Keep checking the chickpeas for doneness by simply tasting. A properly cooked chickpea should remind you of a mashed baked potato in texture. If you taste graininess, continue cooking until that is no longer the case.
If you have a a powerful blender such as a Vitamix, skip removing the skins and blend the chickpeas on high for 1-2 minutes. Be warned that you will need to scrape down the blender often to make sure all of the ingredients are incorporated. Also, you will likely need to use more of the reserved cooking liquid to help the blending process.
Do a quick soak in just an hour if you forget or prefer not to soak the chickpeas overnight. Simply bring the chickpeas to a boil in a pot of water, turn off the heat and allow to soak for an hour or longer before proceeding to step 1.
After everything is said and done, you will have a delicious bowl of hummus that is at room temperature or cooler. If you would like to serve it warm, bring the reserved cooking liquid to a simmer before adding it to the chickpeas in the food processor.
Hummus bi Tahine
Makes about 2.5 cups
8 oz dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup reserved cooking liquid
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 garlic clove
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2-3 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
fresh parsley, chopped
fresh mint, chopped
pita bread (or store-bought naan!)
baby dill pickles
Rinse the soaked chickpeas and place them into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and cover with 2 quarts of cold water. Add the baking soda and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45-60 minutes until chickpeas are very tender and skins have loosened. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid and drain off the rest using a strainer.
Cover the cooked chickpeas with cold water to cool them off and make removing the skins easier. Grasp each chickpea between your first three fingers and pinch slightly, allowing the chickpea to slip out the skin and fall into a clean bowl.
Place the cleaned chickpeas into the bowl of a food processor along with the salt and clove of garlic. Process for 1 minute, scrape down and continue processing for an additional 30 seconds. The mixture should resemble mashed potatoes. If the mixture is crumbly and dry, your chickpeas are undercooked. Continue processing the chickpeas until they resemble mashed potatoes. If after 5 minutes of processing that is not the case, you will need to start over with a new batch of chickpeas.
Add 1-2 Tbsp of the reserved cooking liquid to loosen the chickpea mixture. Add the lemon juice and process for another 30 seconds.
Now add the tahini, 1 Tbsp at a time, tasting in between each addition until it is to your liking. In my opinion, it only takes 1 Tbsp too many for the tahini to start taking over the show.
Add the yogurt and continue processing for 1-2 minutes until the mixture is smooth. Now add about 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid in a slow drizzle. Check the consistency of the hummus by scooping it up with a spoon and continue adding more liquid until the hummus starts to look whipped and feels/tastes soft and airy.
Transfer the “whipped” hummus into a shallow bowl and give it a quick swirl using a spoon. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle on some paprika and cumin, and give a generous sprinkle of parsley and/or mint for a pop of color and herbal freshness.
Serve with pita/naan bread and freshly sliced veggies for a fantastic appetizer or snack.